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BRISTOL, Tenn., April 29, 2017 – The sound of bagpipes resounded throughout the surrounding
hills on Saturday, April 29, as graduates gathered with family and friends to celebrate
King University’s Spring 2017 Commencement exercises on the Oval on the University’s main campus in Bristol, Tenn.
In honor of King’s sesquicentennial anniversary, the keynote speaker, King’s own Katherine Paterson, a 1954 graduate of then King College, shared her vision with those in attendance.
“Commencement is always a special time as the entire institution comes together to
celebrate the accomplishments of our students,” said Matt Roberts, Ed.D., vice president
of Academic Affairs. “This year is particularly special as we continue to celebrate
150 years as a Christian, liberal arts institution of higher learning. We look forward
to our students' continued success in our region and beyond.”
Diplomas were awarded to 567 students who have completed undergraduate and graduate degrees from the College of Arts and
Sciences, School of Behavioral Health Sciences, School of Communication, Information,
and Design, School of Business and Economics, School of Education, and the School
King employees (faculty, staff, and trustees) had the option to bestow the diploma
for their loved one who graduated. One such graduate, Conseulo Jewel Capshaw, received
her Master of Business Administration from her grandmother, Jewel Bell, executive
administrative assistant for communications at King. Ms. Bell will celebrate her 65th year as a King University employee in Sept. 2017.
Several special recognitions were awarded during the Commencement ceremony, including
the M. Jeffrey Byrd Distinguished Service Award, named in memory of M. Jeffrey Byrd, former chair of King College Board of Trustees
and former president of Bristol Motor Speedway. The M. Jeffrey Byrd Distinguished Service Award recipient was awarded this year to Karren Bennett (’17). This award is presented to a King student who “exceeds expectations” through his or
her service to the community and has modeled leadership in a variety of ways throughout
their college career. The award pays tribute to those who have displayed a heart for
service and commitment to the mission of King, which emphasizes cultural transformation
in Christ. The award also honors academic achievement, servant leadership and dedication
to the student body as well as the local community.
This year a student, a staff member, and a Trustee of King University were recognized.
The recipients of the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award were Ann (’68) and Pete (’67) Holler and Aaron Hitefield ('17). The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award was named after Algernon Sydney Sullivan, a lawyer, devout Christian, mediator, orator,
philanthropist, and in the words of a friend, someone who “reached out both hands
in constant helpfulness to [humankind].” It is made in recognition of “fine spiritual
qualities practically applied to daily living, as distinct from hhigh scholarship, athletic
achievement, and success in business, professional ability, political leadership,
or mere worldly prominence in any calling.” The recipients are recognized for excellence
in character and service to humanity. King appoints the recipients as its representative
to bear its standard before the world.
This year’s recipient of the R. T. L. Liston Award for Academic Excellence was Emily Powers (’17). The R. T. L. Liston Award for Academic Excellence honors the important contributions of the thirteenth President of King College who
served for 25 years and led the College into a new era of academic excellence. Beginning
in 1986, this award is selected strictly on a quantitative basis without consideration
for a particular degree. The medal was designed by the late Dr. Graham G. Landrum,
King professor emeritus of English. The Latin inscription quotes St. Ambrose and is
translated “Because Thou Dost Suffer, Not For Thyself, But For Me.”
The commencement speaker, acclaimed author Katherine Paterson, graduated in 1954 summa cum laude with a degree in English from King. She received
her master’s degree from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education. After teaching
for a year, Paterson spent four years in Japan as a missionary. She then traveled
back to New York to pursue a second master’s degree in religious education.
Paterson has since authored more than 30 books, including 16 novels for children and
young people. She has twice won the Newbery Medal, for “Bridge to Terabithia” in 1978
and “Jacob Have I Loved” in 1981. “The Master Puppeteer” won the National Book Award
in 1977, and “The Great Gilly Hopkins” won the National Book Award in 1979 and was
also a Newbery Honor Book. For the body of her work, she received the Hans Christian
Andersen Award in 1998, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2006, and in 2000 was
named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress.
She is a vice-president of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance and
is a member of the board of trustees of Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is also
an honorary lifetime member of the International Board of Books for Young People and
an Alida Cutts lifetime member of the US section, USBBY. She is the 2010-2011 National
Ambassador for Young People's Literature.
On Friday, April 28, graduates joined together in worship during King’s annual Baccalaureate Ceremony at First Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Dr. Peter D. Barnes, senior pastor of First Presbyterian
Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., served as the speaker for the service.
King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in
1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional
degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health
sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business
administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning
opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA
Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information
about King University, visit www.king.edu. King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of
any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University
is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV
certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community
College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.